Volkswagen Passat sedan and wagon 2015 review
Paul Gover road tests and reviews the Volkswagen Passat sedan and wagon with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.
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Skoda is kind of like the ugly Kardashian. It has the same parent company (Volkswagen Group) as Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen, but its cars are nowhere near as good looking or glamorous. But, the new-generation Skoda Superb shares much of the same technological DNA of its more famous siblings but there's more to it than meets the eye.
This is the third generation of Skoda’s big flagship car. The last generation Superb was large, this new one is longer and wider. Skoda has increased the wheelbase, too. and the net result is more shoulder room and legroom. Boot size is up by 60 litres, with a huge 625 litres in the sedan and 660 litres in the wagon.
To put that in perspective the Holden Commodore is about 8cm longer and 3cm wider but its sedan has a boot capacity of 495 litres. That’s because the Commodore doesn’t have a liftback opening, but also the Superb uses the Volkswagen Group’s MQB architecture – it’s scalable platform that can shortened or lengthened. Therefore the Superb uses a stretched Golf platform. It's a similar formula used for the new Passat, but the Skoda is 94mm longer, 32mm wider and has an extra 50mm in wheelbase.
Skoda has improved the Superb’s looks as well, having previewed the shaper edged styling with the Vision C Concept last year. The sedan now has a more coupe-like profile thanks to the removal of the hump shape from the back of the roof. The sedan and wagon are now better looking, but you still wouldn't say stunning.
Kicking off the now three-tier range is the $39,990 162TSI petrol. It’s an $8000 increase in the starting price over the previous gen – but Skoda have outfitted the entry car with more standard features and a more powerful engine – but more on that later. Buyers can then step up to the 140TDI diesel for $43,990 and topping the range is the all-wheel drive 206TSI 4x4 petrol at $50,990. All three can be had as a wagon for an extra $1700.
Each engine brings a different level of trim and all come with a six-speed DSG automatic transmission only. The 162TSI has a 162kW/350Nm 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo petrol engine and sees a combined fuel consumption rating of 6.4L/10km; the 140TDI has a 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre four cylinder turbodiesel and returns 4.8L/100km; while the 206TSI has been given a more powerful version of the petrol four making 206kW and 350Nm with 7.3L/100km.
Skoda says the price rise is justified by the extra features. They aren’t fibbing. Standard on the entry car is active cruise control, an eight-inch screen with satnav and a reversing camera. It’s also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto ready, there’s three-zone climate control, heated front seats – the driver's is power adjustable, front and rear parking sensors, Alcantara seats, leather steering wheel and 18-inch alloys.
Skoda must think we’re all dolphins and need to keep pouring water over ourselves...
Then there’s a bunch of hidden bonuses like umbrellas in the front doors (just like a Rolls-Royce), tablet holders in the backs on the front seats and between the rear seats, retractable sun shades for the rear windows, plus a cargo area equipped with nets, hooks, storage boxes and 12-volt power socket.
Then there’s the cupholders. Skoda must think we’re all dolphins and need to keep pouring water over ourselves because there’s 1.5 litre bottle holders in the front and rear doors, cup holders in the rear armrest, front cup holders and an air-conditioned storage compartment under the armrest and glovebox to keep your drinks cool.
The level of safety equipment is outstanding and we’re still on the base car, okay? There’s Front Assist AEB which monitors the road head and will brake to avoid an impact, Multi-Collision Brake system and nine airbags covering both front and rear seats, and fatigue detection.
The $4700 Tech package adds blind-spot monitoring and lane guidance, auto parking, rear cross-traffic alert and Traffic Jam Assist which will help steer, accelerate and brake the car in bumper-to-bumper conditions.
Stepping up to the 140TDI and 206TSI doesn’t actually bring a great deal more kit – both get paddle shifters, proximity keys, LED ambiant lighting and 19-inch wheels.
Based on overall value the 162TSI looks to be the pick of the bunch and Skoda reckons this will be the big seller and most buyers will go for the wagon. Which is good, because that’s the only variant we managed to drive at the Superb's Australian media launch.
First impressions slipping into the car? It smells like a Porsche cabin – I kid you not! And also like an Audi. Clearly there's some supplier sharing going on in the VW Group. It’s good news for Superb owners, but less so for those in a 911.
It’s like meeting a quiet bloke in a polyester suit who looks like an accountant only to find out he’s a kung fu master.
If the Superb 162TSI was a plane then its cabin is premium economy class. It’s not luxurious, but it’s stylish and well designed. There's a touch of prestige in places like the chrome finish on the instrument cluster, the flush-mounted multmedia display and refined feel to the centre console and gear shifter.
Looks alone give no indication how good this car is to drive, however. It’s like meeting a quiet bloke in a polyester suit who looks like an accountant only to find out he’s a kung fu master.
The 162TSI's rorty but smooth 2.0-litre is sourced from the hot Octavia RS, and despite the Superb being 100kg heavier the bigger car has the same 0-100km/h times of 7.0s and 7.1s for the sedan and wagon respectively.
We started in the wagon on a country highway. Merging into 100km/h traffic gave us the chance to stretch its legs. That 2.0-litre is strong and the throttle response is sharp but so easy to control. Straight away the steering felt way too light in any setting, but the wheel itself feels good and so does the seating position.
Even on a road surface that looked like cheese grater the cabin was super quiet – no roar on the course chip and hardly any wind noise. As the road turned rural and worse the ride stayed composed and comfortable.
Swapping into the sedan we were even more impressed by the Superb’s handling as we zig-zagged through rain on slimy mountain roads. This comes down to the Superb’s excellent chassis, even though our car didn’t have the optional active dampers fitted. The DSG auto is excellent too. Our car was fitted with the optional shift paddles which are perfect for twisty sections if you prefer to swap the cogs yourself.
Yes the Superb is the ugly Kardashian, but Skoda's latest model is actually talented.
Many Australians might see the Superb name as a bit of own-trumpet blowing, but luckily it’s pretty good.
It would be hard to top the entry-spec 162TSI as the pick of the Superb range. The value for money is brilliant.
So if you’re thinking of a Volkswagen Passat stop. The Superb is bigger, has more kit and a more powerful engine. If you’re looking at an Audi A4 or A6, perhaps you shouldn't. The base spec Superb is a tad smaller than the bigger Audi, but it does pretty much everything lesser versions of those cars can do, and in some areas the Skoda offers more. Plus it’s about $40K less.
It’s the smart buy. You just have to get past the name... and the not-so-Hollywood looks.
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